If you routinely sync between the iPad and local folders on your Mac/PC, chances are that you won’t be able to delete certain photos from the iPad’s camera roll/photo albums. Why does this happen?

Quite a bunch of users repeatedly face this problem. This is actually pretty simple if you understand the concept of sync. In this short tutorial, we’ll try to fix this problem and understand why it occurs. It’s not a problem, after all.

Can’t Delete Some Photos from iPad

The normal way of deleting photos on the iPad is easy.

  • Tap on the actions button (square with the arrow) on top-right of the album view.
  • Now, select the photos you want to delete.
  • Once marked, tap the Delete button
  • Then tap on Delete Selected Photos

This usually deletes all photos but sometimes, some photos aren’t removed from the list. This is what happens: when you select multiple photos, the Delete option disappears, which means you aren’t able to delete the photos.

How to fix this?

The reason why the delete option disappears when you select a few photos from the album is that these photos aren’t on your iPad really. They have been synced via iTunes and so, when you try to delete them, you can’t.

The solution is to ‘deselect’ these photos from your iTunes library and then re-sync the iPad. This way, the photos will get removed from the iPad automatically.

This sync complication is one of the reasons why an iCloud sync is far better but considering that it’s not a solution for all, this is what you have to do to remove photos that can’t be deleted in iPad:

  • Remove/move photos that are in the folder that iTunes uses for photo sync.
  • Alternatively, you can also de-select the photos from the folder within iTunes.
  • Connect your iPad and fire up iTunes.
  • Sync. All the photos that were previously synced to the iPad will be gone as they aren’t available in the library.
  • That’s it.

  • Walker Texas Stranger

    This is crazy! My wifes iPad is so full of pictures it’s out of memory and I can’t select and delete the folders or individual pictures to free up memory. I can’t find anywhere in itunes to do it either. It seems all I can do is do a sync that deletes all the photos?!

  • Ali B

    I had an issue with this so I created an empty folder, told iTunes to sync with the empty folder (which removed all the pics I couldn’t delete) and then un-ticked the sync button. It took about 3 minutes (which included the iPad applying the settings each time) but worked perfectly. I did it when the only pics left were the ones I wanted to delete…now they are all gone. :D

  • Jams

    this was a life saver. saved me a drive back and forth to get my external to delete albums. thanks!

  • Ro

    You’re an angel: philsims…

  • Concorde

    Rediculous. This is the reason I have a Samsung. If I want pictures off my phone I can delete them or simply remove the sd card. When will you iNuts realize that Apple is too cumbersome to fool with. All other phones are much easier to use and give you much more control over your device. Apple spends too much time managing your phone for you. Get a samsung!

  • philsims

    OPTION 2 if you are an iMac user, first create a EMPTY folder in say Pictures on the iMac. Then connect he iPad, DO NOT fire up iPhoto; got to photos on the left menu in the iTunes screen; select SYNC FROM SELECTED FOLDER; browse for and select the EMPTY folder; select SYNC the Ipad, and magically all photos and videos in photo albums, and the albums will disappear from the iPad.

    • Laura Grannis

      You are brilliant. The “EMPTY” folder in the Pictures index saved the day. These latest sync quirks are ridiculous. I’m grateful to you for posting such a simple and creative fix!

    • Marty Liu

      WOW Brilliant! thanks for the tip.

  • Apollo’s Towel

    Nope that doesn’t work. I deselect my entire library in itunes, and I still have 1400 photos from aperture on my ipad. iTunes has become what Microsoft’s Active Sync was – just terrible.

  • dlbeard

    What if you can’t sync with that computer any more? Surely one can delete their own photos off of their own iPad even if they don’t have that Mac anymore.

    • Yes now that’s possible. Actually, when you sync with iTunes or iCloud, those photos should automatically be gone.